Aviation enthusiasts waiting for the ‘sonic boom’
Aviation enthusiasts in the country, particularly those with an abiding interest in military aircraft, are waiting to experience the “sonic boom” -- the sound wave triggered by a flying object when it crosses the sound barrier -- this week as Asia’s largest air show “AeroIndia” gets underway in Bangalore on Wednesday.
And the “sonic boom” is likely to be generated by the French Rafale fighter planes and the F-16s built by US aviation major Lockheed Martin, which would be showcased at the mega event.
Incidentally, the two aircraft were among the six shortlisted by the Union Ministry of Defence (MoD)last year for the `100,000 crore tender for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft, which eventually went to the French firm.
And the organisers are expecting some two lakh visitors for this year’s show. For the hardcore aviation fans, though, the major attraction will be the Czech Republic’s private aerobatics team -- “the Flying Bulls” -- on their ZLIN 560 LX planes.
However, this is not the maiden outing for the “Flying Bulls” as it had enthralled the spectators at the AeroIndia’s 2011 edition. Also, scheduled to take part in the show are the “Russian Knights” aerobatics team of the Russian Air Force, who fly the Su-27 fighter jets.
The Czechs and the Russians are expected to make up for the IAF “Surya Kirans”, which will be conspicuous by its absence.
The IAF team has been unable to make it to the air show since its “Kiran MkII” planes have been deployed for training rookie fighter pilots.
Meanwhile, the prestigious five-day festival which is into its ninth edition, will also feature homebrands, including the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which has been in the making for over two decades now. In fact, the showcasing of the LCA at the premier event could well be a precursor to the possible induction of the plane into the IAF ranks later this year.
Besides, the ‘Sarang’ aerobatics team that fly the indigenous ‘Dhruv’ Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) will be entertaining the crowds.
The AeroIndia show comes at a time amid projections that the country’s defence market will be a major attraction for the global arms manufacturers in the next decade or so, as the Indian Armed Forces’ modernisation programmes would see the large-scale arms purchases worth a whopping `500,000crore.
The bullish outlook comes despite the Centre’s decision to slash the country’s defence outlay by `10,000crore for the 2012-13 fiscal that ends in March. And New Delhi’s defence spending is said to be the third highest in the world, after the US and China.